NCERC celebrates 10 years, biofuel industry growth, development

By Holly Jessen | October 21, 2013

The National Corn-to-Ethanol Center opened its doors for tours, lunch and demonstrations during a recent open house celebration. “We’re not only celebrating our 10 year anniversary but we are really celebrating the biofuels industry and its growth and development over the last 10 years,” said John Caupert, director of NCERC.

NCERC began operation as a pilot-scale research facility in October 2003. It has conducts biofuel research for both the public and private sectors, including work on production of cellulosic ethanol from corn fiber or bran. It is located on the campus of Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, and works to develop and commercialize biofuels, specialty chemicals and other renewable compounds. The fully functional dry-grind pilot plant has a fermentation suite that can scale up incrementally from 5 liters to 1,500 liters as well as equipment for fractionation and pretreatment.

The Illinois Corn Growers Association congratulated NCERC for its 10 years of service to both the agricultural and ethanol industries. That organization advocated for the development of NCERC, working with various industry supporters and group to establish a research center. The goal was to help accelerate the commercialization of new technologies, increase efficiencies for production facilities and develop value-added coproducts.

"The thing about NCERC that makes it special is that it is available for any industry partner to use," said Dave Loos, ICGA technology and business development director.  "It is a facility that provides training, research support, lab support, and pilot plant facilities for any process requiring fermentation.  It is available to all public and private researchers in the ethanol industry, and benefits the industry as a whole."

The ICGA 45-foot Biofuels Mobile Education Center was on hand at the open house. It features interactive computers, educational displays, videos and more.

Although NCERC has evolved to keep up with policy and industry needs, the mission has remained the same. "More than 50 technologies that have passed through our building are now in the commercial marketplace," Caupert said. "The Center continues to conduct groundbreaking research that has the potential to address some of the most pressing issues of our day."

A short video about the open house and NCERC has been posted online.